ORDINARY TIME: SUNDAY 4 [B] — Exorcism by Jesus on a Sabbath—Faith Known

MARK 1, 21-28     

21   Jesus and his companions went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach.   

22   And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

23   And at once in their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he shouted,

24   ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’

Mark 1, 23-27 Exorcism at synagogue in Capernaum 11th century fresco Wikipedia

Mark 1, 23-27
Exorcism at synagogue in Capernaum
11th century fresco

25   But Jesus rebuked it saying, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’

26   And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him.

27   The people were so astonished that they started asking one another what it all meant, saying, ‘Here is a teaching that is new, and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’

28   And his reputation at once spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

New Jerusalem Bible  

Doubleday 1984 



In catechising adults, adolescents, and children, themes derived from the gospel passage could be developed.

Key themes include:

  • Belief in Jesus … the Christ
  • Exorcism as a sacramental
  • Third Commandment of keeping holy the Sabbath


Mar 1, 24  >  CCC 438

Belief in Jesus Christ …

Jesus’ consecrated as the Messiah

Jesus was anointed at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and with power that he might be revealed as the Messiah Israel hoped for.  Consecrated as the Messiah, his words and works manifest him as ‘the Holy One of God’ [cf Joh 6, 69; Act 3, 14].


Mar 1, 25-26  >  CCC 1673

Celebration of Sacramentals

Exocism as a sacramental

In the gospel passage Jesus is noted to have performed an exorcism [Mar 1, 25-26; cf Mar 3, 15; 6, 7. 13; 16, 17].  

From Jesus Christ the Church receives the power and office of exorcism, when it “asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion.” 

The Church understands an exorcism as a form of sacramental.  “Sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church.  They prepare humans to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life” [CCC 1677].


Mar 1, 21  >  CCC 2173

Third Commandment – The Sabbath Day

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy

On numerous occasions in the gospels — eg Mar 2, 24 and Mar 3, 2 — Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of violating the Sabbath law.  

The passage for this Sunday shows Jesus respecting the holiness of this day.  He gives it the authentic and authoritative interpretation that “the Sabbath was made for humans and not humans for the Sabbath” [Mar 2, 27-28].  So Jesus as the “Son of man” is master even of the Sabbath, by doing good in restoring the “man with an unclean spirit” to be whole.

Resources consulted

Catechism of the Catholic Church.

London, Burns & Oates, Revised edition 1999, reprinted 2006.

The New Jerusalem Bible.

New York, Doubleday & Company 1985.




Mark 1, 23-27 Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit Cerezo Barredo

Mark 1, 23-27
Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit
Cerezo Barredo



Pope Francis — citing St Paul’s exhortation to put on the “full armour of God” [Eph 6, 11] —

reminds us that Christian living is a “continuous battle” against the tactics of the Evil One.  

  • What do I need to change in my life to

“grow strong in the Lord …

with the strength of his power?”